Construction is underway on a number of passenger rail upgrades in Wellington, New Zealand’s transport minister Phil Twyford announced on Monday.
Upgrades include the conversion of the Trentham to Upper Hutt 2.7km single track section to a double track, a new signalling system, building second platforms and shelters at Trentham and Wallaceville stations, additional rail lines at Upper Hutt to stable freight services, making improvements to level crossings and building a pedestrian underpass.
The Trentham and Upper Hutt track is a major bottle neck at point where passenger and freight trains interact. The upgrades will help keep freight services running to schedule in light of increased passenger services.
“This is an important step in upgrading Wellington’s rail network and will help make the metro and Wairarapa commuter trains more reliable,” KiwiRail’s chief operating officer of capital projects and asset development David Gordon said.
“Double tracking effectively removes a congestion point in the network and will create more flexibility when the two commuter services interact with each other and with our freight trains coming to and from the Wairarapa.”
“Sorting out this pinch point in the network is also crucial to support Greater Wellington Regional Council’s plans for more commuter trains in the decades ahead.”
The Hutt Valley rail line will be closed over Christmas so that an underpass can be built at Trentham Station.
“Our $196 million Wellington rail package also includes important upgrades for the Wairarapa line, without them, the line would have deteriorated with more and more disruptions to services,” Twyford said.
The Transport Agency is providing $193 million towards the Wellington Metro Rail Network upgrades and the Wellington Regional Council the other $3 million. The investment was announced by the government in late 2018, and is expected to be undertaken progressively until 2026.
KiwiRail says it is also making good progress with an earlier Budget 2017 investment to replace Wellington’s overhead traction system and network power supply. So far nearly 700 of the 860 (80 per cent) mast foundations in the Hutt Valley have been replaced and more than 300 new poles installed.